New report outlines restoration activities to speed seagrass recovery in the Florida Keys

Dec 16, 2010

Results of a five-year monitoring effort to repair seagrass damaged in a boat grounding incident suggest that restoration techniques such as replanting seagrass can speed recovery time. The finding is included in a new report released today by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

The National Marine Sanctuaries Conservation Series report, "N-Control Seagrass Restoration Monitoring Report Monitoring Events 2003-2008," presents results of efforts to repair a nearly 1,000-square-foot (92.8-square-meter) swath of seagrass that was damaged on May 29, 2001, when a 45-foot power boat, the N-Control, grounded in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Seagrass beds are an important habitat in the sanctuary. They provide nurseries and homes for numerous species of fish and and serve as storm surge buffers for the low-lying Florida Keys. However, shallow seagrass beds in the Florida Keys are being damaged by vessel groundings. In 2007, an estimated 217 reported boat groundings occurred in the sanctuary, with approximately 80 percent occurring on seagrass beds. Vessel groundings damage seagrass, leaving barren areas where marine life once flourished.

Restoration techniques at the N-Control grounding site included replanting seagrass and installing stakes for birds to roost on. The use of stakes to attract birds provides a natural way to fertilize seagrass beds as bird feces are high in nutrients needed by the growing seagrass. Among the key findings in the report:

After five years, the damaged area is gaining seagrass and coral coverage, though it hasn't reached pre-grounding baseline levels.

Rather than leaving the site to recover on its own, restoration activities have significantly reduced the amount of time required for damaged seagrass beds in the monitoring area to recover.

"This report highlights the critical science needed to understand and restore our sensitive marine habitats," said Sean Morton, superintendent, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. "It's also an important reminder that boaters need to know where they are going before heading out on the water to prevent groundings in the first place. Make sure you have up-to-date NOAA nautical charts, and always pay attention to the signs, channel markers and informational buoys."

Currently, more than 30 seagrass restoration projects are underway at the sanctuary.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadow, mangrove communities and sand flats. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary.

Explore further: China's struggle for water security

More information: The full report can be found online: sanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/conservation/ncontrol.html

Related Stories

Study: World's seagrass beds are declining

Mar 28, 2006

A University of New Hampshire scientist says the world's seagrass beds -- important habitats, food sources and sediment stabilizers -- are disappearing.

Nitrogen retained through loss

May 22, 2008

The nitrogen cycle plays a major role in seagrass fields. Dutch researcher Arie Vonk studied the nitrogen dynamics of seagrasses in Indonesia. He discovered that the interaction between seagrasses, animals and microorganisms ...

Seagrass ecosystems at a 'global crisis'

Dec 01, 2006

An international team of scientists is calling for a targeted global conservation effort to preserve seagrasses and their ecological services for the world’s coastal ecosystems, according to an article published in the ...

The mystery of the missing sea nymph – solved!

Nov 28, 2005

A four-year study into the mysterious and rapid decline of Adelaide's coastal seagrass species – mainly Amphibolis (commonly known as 'sea nymph' or 'wire weed') and Posidonia – is close to completion.

Recommended for you

Mountain of electrical waste reaches new peak

2 hours ago

A record amount of electrical and electronic waste hit the rubbish tips in 2014, with the biggest per-capita tallies in countries that pride themselves on environmental consciousness, a report said Sunday.

China's struggle for water security

Apr 18, 2015

Way back in 1999, before he became China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao warned that water scarcity posed one of the greatest threats to the "survival of the nation".

Canada revises upward CO2 emission data since 1990

Apr 18, 2015

Canada revised its greenhouse gas emission data from 1990 to 2013 in a report Friday, showing it had higher carbon dioxide discharges each year, and a doubling of emissions from its oil sands.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.